Realisms Seminar-19th-Century to Contemporary
An advanced graduate seminar focused on Realism and spanning several centuries. This two-part course will consider the literary history of realism and will take on some fundamental epistemological questions entailed by the novel’s attempts to represent the real. We will read major theories of realism alongside canonical and marginal realist fiction. Emily Steinlight will address the variously formal, aesthetic, political, and epistemological status of realism in nineteenth-century novels and in theories old and new; some discussion will focus on the concept of totality and on the uneven histories and revitalized uses of realism across contexts. Heather Love will address the relation between classical realism, hyperrealism, and modernist/avant-garde departures in the 20th and 21st centuries, with special attention paid to the role of observation and description in literature and the social sciences. The range of readings may include novels by Honoré de Balzac, George Eliot, Leo Tolstoy, George Gissing, Mariano Azuela, Virginia Woolf, Patricia Highsmith, Nicholson Baker, Georges Perec, Karl Ove Knausgaard, and Rachel Cusk, as well as critical and theoretical work by Viktor Schklovsky, Georg Lukács, Ian Watt, Roland Barthes, Catherine Gallagher, Fredric Jameson, Elaine Freedgood, Anna Kornbluh, Colleen Lye, the Warwick Research Collective, and others.